This last Saturday we participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the second year in a row. My amazing Aunt and her husband came down from San Jose once again to join us. My other Aunt from last year also came as did my sister-in-law and her family and a friend and her mom. We learned a few things from last year and worked hard to make this year even better than the last.
To start with, we figured out that we could make our own team shirts. We wanted Team Dee to stand out, so I created these t-shirts and designed my mom’s face into the purple awareness ribbon. I had originally wanted to get them professionally made, but I ran out of time. I was pleased with how my homemade shirts turned out though.
Also, I wasn’t sure last year about how strenuous the actual walk was. So I hadn’t planned on having the kids join us (although my husband ended up bringing them). This year, we planned on all of the grandkids (minus one) participating and explained to them what we were doing and why we were walking. I love that we involved them and that they were able to learn the importance of supporting their family. My nephew, Jeremy, led us in a team spirit chant throughout our walk and all the kids had a lot of fun with that (especially since we bought mega phones to yell through).
We also took note last year that there were awards for the most spirited team as well as the best dressed team. We tried hard to be the top earning family team, but that dang Pauline’s Angels team is hard to beat!! ;) I’ve told you before, we’re a competitive family. So we wanted to win something. We knew we needed to stand out. In case the neon shirts weren’t enough, we decided to accent our uniform with the dementia color: purple. We had purple jewelry, purple wigs, purple hair spray paint and accessories…and we sure did draw attention! Everyone was stopping us to take our pictures and our efforts paid off. We won the award for the Best Dressed Team. When we went up front to receive our award (and get our picture taken), my daughter asked me if we were famous. Ha ha. Gotta love kids!
I am very proud of what Team Dee accomplished this year. We finished with over $4,000 in donations which put us in the #6 spot for the highest earning team. My dad was ranked at #9, my Aunt at #10 and myself at #13 as the highest individual fundraisers. Out of about 1,000 who were there walking, I would say that is quite an accomplishment!!
I know many people do not like donating to organizations such as these; they feel that the individuals affected never see a dime of the money. To each his own; however, I’d like to share a few facts about the Alzheimer’s Association that you may not know and which have influenced our decision to walk for them.
1. The Alzheimer’s Association provides resources for families who are affected by this disease. Whenever you need something, you can call the center and they can direct you where you need to go. I can’t even begin to list all of the resources that one may need in order navigate through this disease. And they help you get through it all. I would bet that most people affected with dementia have made a phone call to the Alzheimer’s Association at some point in time; if they haven’t then it’s only because they don’t know about it! Your donations help to fund this.
2. Along with #1, the Alzheimer’s Association has a respite program. That means they are allotted a certain amount of money (depending on how much they’ve earned that year) that they put aside to assist families with respite care. Earlier this year, we received some of that funding and had a temporary caregiver with mom. While I was at the walk, I ran into the case worker who helped us get on that program. She recognized me right away (wig and all!) and asked how my mom was doing. I gave her an update and told her that we were looking into full-time care. She let me know that there were still some funds available and that they may be able to help us again. It’s not anything full-time, but any little bit helps!! Though the help is there for everyone, I feel that we are “on their radar” more because of the donations we’ve raised for them. I always tell my kids: “You get what you give!” I feel a little better about getting if I am giving!! It is your donations that help to fund this and make this possible.
3. I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately on how scientists feel they might be close to a break through on Alzheimer’s treatments. In fact, I posted a link last week on an experimental drug used on rats that was successful in treating Alzheimer’s (it has yet to be tested on humans). If we can find treatment for Alzheimer’s (which will affect millions), it opens the door for other dementias as well. All of this takes funding. Your donations help to make this possible.
Though it can be frustrating at times to raise the money and find the sponsors (I hate asking people for money), I feel good about being proactive and helping in the cause. Most of all, it feels good to be united in love and support for my mom. During opening ceremonies, there was a “flower ceremony”. We had all written on different colored flowers to symbolize the person we were walking for. As we all stood together, holding our flowers for my mom and as I looked around to see so many others rally in support for their loved ones, my eyes filled with tears. It was a touching moment.
I want to give a BIG thank you to everyone who joined or donated to Team Dee this year. You have no idea how much your love and support means to us. It is what helps us get through every day. I would love to see even more FAMILY and even friends join Team Dee next year ;)
Here are some more fun pictures for you to enjoy!!